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If you have to watch one Hulu movie in May 2024, stream this one

Tom Hanks in Cast Away.
20th Century Studios

It’s a new month, and that means new movies on Hulu. And somebody over there really loves Tom Hanks. Because in this month alone, Hulu is adding Hanks’ directorial debut, That Thing You Do, one of his most iconic films, Big, and one of his most recent hits, Elvis. But if we had to choose only one Hulu movie to stream in May 2024, then our pick is another Tom Hanks movie: Cast Away.

Robert Zemeckis directed the film from a script by William Broyles Jr. It cast Hanks as Chuck Noland, a FedEx employee who survives a plane crash in the Pacific ocean, only to find himself stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere without anyone to turn to but himself. Cast Away was actually a big hit in late 2000 and during the early part of 2001, earning $429.6 million worldwide. That may not have translated into Oscar gold for two-time Best Actor winner Hanks, but Cast Away is an unforgettable film that deserves a new audience nearly 24 years after it hit theaters.

Tom Hanks throws himself into his role

Tom Hanks in Cast Away.
20th Century Studios

In an era with fat suits and CGI, there aren’t a lot of movies where actors push their physical fitness to its limits for the sake of believability on film. Tom Hanks not only gained weight for Cast Away, he took a year off from the production to lose an even greater amount of weight and let his hair grow, all in the name of convincingly transforming himself into someone who looked like they spent years on a deserted island.

None of that would have worked if Hanks hadn’t been so committed to the role. As the only cast member for a very long stretch of the movie, Hanks had to carry every scene and convey Chuck’s thoughts and emotions in his every expression, every movement, and all aspects of his being. This movie invites the viewer to witness Chuck at his lowest point, letting us collectively watch as he faces extreme challenges while attempting to keep his sanity. Hanks was nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars for this role. He didn’t win, but perhaps he should have.

It’s a riveting story of survival

Tom Hanks in Cast Away.
20th Century Studios

Many of Zemeckis’ films have been high-stakes special effects extravaganzas, including Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the Back to the Future trilogy. By comparison, Cast Away couldn’t be more down to erth. Chuck is such an everyman that Zemeckis is able to make his struggle to start a simple fire into a meaningful mini epic in of itself.

As resourceful as Chuck turns out to be, the movie makes it clear that the island is his personal Hell, and he’ll do just about anything to escape and reunite with the woman that he loves. Zemeckis makes us feel Chuck’s desire every step of the way, even during his setbacks.

It makes you care about a volleyball

Wilson, a volleyball who co-stars in Cast Away.
20th Century Studios

Meet Wilson, a volleyball adorned with a bloody handprint from Chuck that is basically the co-star of the film. Chuck gave Wilson a face just to give himself someone or something to talk to during his years on the island. The amazing thing is that it’s hard not to care about Wilson even though it … or he … is just an inanimate object.

As Chuck, Hanks is so committed to treating Wilson like his only friend that he risks his life for a simple volleyball … and its fate is absolutely heartbreaking in the moment.

Helen Hunt gives a beautiful performance

Helen Hunt in Cast Away.
20th Century Studios

Because so much of the movie takes place with Chuck on the island, there isn’t much for Helen Hunt to do as the woman he loves, Kelly Frears. But in her relatively short screentime in the film, Hunt shows audiences why she’s the woman that Chuck so desperately wants to get back to. Even when their relationship is strained, there’s no question that they love each other.

While it’s true that Wilson the volleyball has more screen time than Hunt, seeing Kelly’s relationship with Chuck is the key to getting the viewer invested in their romance. Hunt’s performance may be understated compared to that of Hanks, but she does a great job with it.

The movie offers heartbreak and hope

Tom Hanks in Cast Away.
20th Century Studios

The hardest lesson of Cast Away is that not everything is going to work out neatly in the end. Chuck’s ordeal leaves a massive hole in his life that may not ever be filled again. But in Chuck’s moments of despair, there’s a spark of hope for something more.

Even in the relatively downbeat ending of the movie, Cast Away offers us hope that Chuck is going to be OK. And sometimes, that’s all we need.

Watch Cast Away on Hulu.

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Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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